Captain America Just Made These Amazing Points About the Gender Wage Gap
Back in 2014, we were all blessed with the very important knowledge that Captain America’s Chris Evans is, indeed, a feminist, who also loves his mother very much, so talk about bonus points. And he’s back at it spitting the feminist truth yet again. This time, Chris Evans talked the gender wage gap in the first episode of Netflix’s Chelsea, a talk show by Chelsea Handler on Friday. He not only acknowledged its existence, especially in Hollywood, but called it “ubiquitous.”
To give credit where it’s due, the dialogue about pay inequality in the entertainment business was started by actress Emily VanCamp, who plays Sharon Carter in the Marvel film. “To instill that change you have to have the dialogue and say it. Some of these actresses are getting paid loads of money [but] they’re allowed to say, ‘I want equal pay,'” VanCamp said. And VanCamp certainly made a good point about privilege.
Low-profile women, whether new actresses or everyday members of the workforce, aren’t exactly “allowed” to voice the same sentiments as wealthy, established female movie stars, being vulnerable to office ostracism or some other form of punishment due to sexist double standards, and all.
“Being a guy, it’s a radically different landscape,” Evans responded. “I think there is a gender gap that is ubiquitous in Hollywood, and I think a lot of times it’s hard to even identify.”
For some added insight, consider how Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson were the only actresses on the 2015 edition of Forbes’ Celebrity 100, which lists the highest-paid celebrities in the world.
And outside of Hollywood, gender wage gap-deniers are quick to point out how the prevalent 78/79-cents-on-the-dollar statistic regarding the wage gap is misleading due to the dramatically different proportions of men and women in high-paying fields. But almost no one ever calls out the cultural attitudes that steer women away from certain fields, devalue feminized work, and ultimately influence employers’ perceptions of who is more skilled, experienced and worthy of higher salary.
Cultural attitudes are difficult if not impossible to quantify, and individuals with the privilege to never experience the adverse effects of these attitudes generally don’t look past numbers.
At any rate, Evans took it a step further by reminding us that the gender gap in Hollywood runs way deeper than salary:
“It’s not even about the contracts [or pay]. If you look at that project there’s probably about nine guy roles and one girl role. So even before you get to the point of money there’s already an issue going on underneath.”
Male leads remain the majority, with women as the leads in only 25.6 percent of American films, according to a 2015 study by the University of California, Los Angeles. Overall, male characters appear twice as often as females. And let’s not forget the gender disparities in Hollywood writing, directing, and producing gigs, too, according to the American Association of University Women.
As a disclaimer, my enthusiastic excitement regarding Evans’ words on the wage gap doesn’t mean I find his or any other man’s commentary about the issue more important than women’s. Men like Chris Evans weren’t the first ones to call out the issue and demand equality. (Exhibit A: Jennifer Lawrence; and, more recently, Exhibit B: Hope Solo.)
In an ideal world, all males would be allies so I wouldn’t have to lose my shit over Evans saying things like this, but since this isn’t an ideal world and, frankly, good male allies are hard to come by, I’d like to believe my excitement is at least a little justified.